And I call myself a "blogger".
I took pictures of everything when we went to my niece's Christening two weekends ago. But what I didn't take pictures of was the most important part.
Oh.Mi.God, the gear.
(That's my dad. I caught him at the end of a really long day making friends with giganto-carseat.)
I'll get right down to it. There really has to be an invention better than a luggage cart that will help you with all your gear. Like a luggage butler or something. Where there are an extra pair of hands with you at all times to stop the baby from screaming in the security line because you were dumb enough to let his (empty) water cup peek out from one of the pockets of the diaper bag.
Or an extra pair of hands to smack the guy behind you in the security line, the one who's hemming and hawing and rolling his eyes because his life and existence is so much more important than yours. And he's doing this while you're taking your shoes off, collapsing the stroller, taking the laptop out of the bag, jamming the carseat through the conveyor, taking the kids' shoes off, all with one arm because you're holding one child on your hip and all while sweating profusely and trying not to leave anyone behind (sorry sir, that you got slapped, but it wasn't me, it was the butler...and honestly? You deserved it. Because, sir, we are ALL TRYING TO JUST GET THERE.)
So ahead of the trip I was a person made up of lists. Three of them, to be exact. There was the "diaper bag" list, there was the "Mommy Miscellaneous list" and there was the "Kids everything else" list.
These were lists entirely separate from the clothing lists, but I consider them more important because we can live with clothing mishaps. We cannot, however, live without the items in the aforementioned lists.
So, for your enjoyment, I have saved these lists because I feel you will benefit from them. And honestly? If you have anything to add to them or any way to combine, condense, or minimize these lists, I would love to hear your tips.
Here it is, list number one: The Diaper Bag. Because this is literally the only thing you have for the most dire essentials whilst on the plane away from your luggage.
-Snacks. Because they can't scream while their mouths are stuffed. I was not above bribery in this category either, these were only about 50% healthy. On purpose. Included animal crackers (the real boxed kind), Little Debbies, apples (because pilots eat them), pop tarts (which were breakfast because our flight was AT 7 a.m.), and miniature oreos. Ok, so maybe not even 50% healthy. Oh well. They'll live.
-Dvds and computer (which turned out to be a flop because you could hear approximately NOTHING over the loudness of the plane.)
-Toys (cars, magnets, magnetic strip for Lightning McQueen magnets, crayons, coloring book, stickers, blocks)
-Extra kiddie undies and plastic liners (because we're traveling with a toddler who's potty training.)
-Hand sanitizer wipes
-2 empty sippy cups (empty because of security remember)
OK. Yes, as you can imagine, this was a great deal of crap so I had to split it up into two bags, one for me and one for my husband. So it turned out to be a doublediaperbag and did I ever give my husband business for trying to put one of these in the overhead compartment, rendering it completely useless at various points on the flight, like takeoff.
List number two: Mommy Miscellaneous because these are the things I would forget if I did not write them down.
-camera and battery and since we have a Nikon it also required its own bag/case. Must invest in smaller camera for this purpose.
-Birth certificates for children (not mandatory but good to have while traveling just in case.)
-Hairdryer (because every time I believe whereever we are going will have one, they don't and I end up buying one. Of course the opposite is true when I do bring it. Everyone has one and there is an influx of hairdryers and a fuse eventually gets blown.)
-Toothbrush. Which, despite list, I forgot.
And then there's the final list, the "Kids Everything Else" list of things that are mandatory but cannot exist in diaper bag(s) or mommy bag.
-Jammies (yes, separate from clothes because I always forget them.)
-Wipes (The mother load. Just in case there are no stores in Washington, D.C.)
-Sneakers for both kids
-Dress shoes for both kids
-Pack n play/sheet (my sister had another one for us to use so we wouldn't have to travel with two, thank God)
-Coat. Even though it was only really cold for about a minute and a half.
-Most important of all, the kids' blankies. Mr. Green Blankie and Mr. Blue Blankie.
So, if this isn't exhausting just looking at it, I'll give you a moment to picture the four of us.
Mommy with camera bag and shoulder bag, pushing stroller with two half-asleep kids. I got the better end of the deal. Because there, trailing along behind us, is a (very helpful) daddy with a diaper bag backpack, carrying a pack n' play and wheeling two suitcases, one of which has a bum wheel. (Oh and did I mention I packed myself and the two boys in one of those smallish suitcases? I still have not become masterey of the packery.)
Of course there were no luggage carts where we parked.
(And when we got to the tram we realized we forgot the carseats.)
We proceeded ahead to check-in anyway and decided he would run back to the car to get them. And here is where I (again) sing Tampa International Airport's praises. Not only is it easy to navigate, there is an entirely separate line in security for the poor folks like us with two kids and a ridiculous amount of crap. It was luxurious and we were spoiled. It wasn't until the trip back when there were only two lines of security at Reagan, where there was hemming and hawing and "come on!"-ing going on behind us (my husband was so frazzled he kept having to go in and out of the x-ray machine because he kept forgetting that things like his wallet or his sunglasses were in his pockets.)
Helpful tip alert: Children under 2 can ride on your lap for free. But, if yours is like mine, 15 months old and refusing to sit still ever, you can bring the carseat and if the flight's not full, you can use the carseat in a seat of his own without paying for an extra ticket. If the flight's full, you're out of luck and you have to gate-check the carseat. But so what? It's worth a try. Check with the airline though. I know for a fact U.S. Air does this. Even though they make you pay $15 to check one bag. We checked three. 45 bucks. Thanks a lot.But at least they brought back the free inflight beverage. That (almost) makes up for it.
Now, a trip wouldn't be a trip if we didn't do what we do best and do things like lose the keys. So it was utter madness a half-hour before we left for the airport to come home, the bags in disarray, my sister's house turned upside down... And then upon returning home having to take a van-cab home, get the spare key from my mother-in-law, and then take the van-cab back to the airport to pick up the car. At 10:30 at night. Of course, I stayed at the house and put the kids to bed while my husband got to know the cabbie and go back to the airport, but you know, $70 bucks later... Oh yes, and the keys are still missing.
Believe it or not, the going to and fro was the most difficult part. Because there was peace on the plane and it looked like this.
I could only imagine what it would be like if the kids were tired, cranky or tantrumy. But they really did roll with the punches. (Except for the short bout of screaming in the security line...) If it weren't simply because of the gear, the traveling part would have been easy. But I really can't see any way around that madness, at least for now, while we have two in carseats. And the counter to traveling without carseats resets if we have a third child one day, a fact that my husband was quick to point out at the end of the trip. But oh, wait there's more. See what happens when a family of four shares a room and a Christening after-party gets out of control (some names may be changed to protect the innocent) in part II...Oh yes, the scoop on what my family's really like. It's what makes the travel part all worth it!